When Should I Tip In Europe? — Ask Anything

Tipping is a highly cultural practice that varies all over the world. If you’re visiting Europe from abroad, you may be confused as to whether you should — or when you should — tip a waitress, waitor, bellhop or taxicab driver.

luxury travel advisor Sarah, takes on all your questions about the logistics of travelling ... Dear Sarah, I get a lot of different answers when I google it! Can you give us some guidance on tipping in Europe?

Recently, Point Me To The Plane Destinations Expert Sarah Johnson got a question about tipping in Europe, when it’s expected and when it might be surprisingly inappropriate. Sarah spends most of her year on the road in countries around the world, and is here to answer questions about the pitfals and joys of travelling. Email all your burning travel questions to sarah@pointmetotheplane.com.

Question: When Do I Tip In Europe

Dear Sarah,

I’m spending two weeks in Europe this summer with my wife. Some of our friends told us it’s not normal to tip in Europe, but others said that servers expect it. I get a lot of different answers when I Google it! Can you give us some guidance on tipping in Europe?

Thanks, Curt

luxury travel advisor Sarah, takes on all your questions about the logistics of travelling ... Dear Sarah, I get a lot of different answers when I google it! Can you give us some guidance on tipping in Europe?

Answer: When You Feel Like It (Usually)

Dear Curt,

Hello! What a great question, and you’re right – tipping in Europe is a tricky subject. While it depends a lot on where in Europe you’re traveling, it’s safe for you to assume that you don’t have to tip. Servers get paid a good wage and tipping in most European countries is considered an additional bonus for a job well done. However, I know that’s a pretty vague answer so let me go into detail!

Tipping in Restaurants

Most full service restaurants include service in the bill. In Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, restaurants often list the service charge at the bottom as an added line. If it’s not listed separately, your bill might state “servizio incluso,” meaning the service charge is included in the price of the food.

In Austria, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and other Northern European countries, service charges aren’t normally included on a receipt. Service charges may or may not be added to a bill at fine dining establishment. Either way, servers don’t expect to be tipped extra.

luxury travel advisor Sarah, takes on all your questions about the logistics of travelling ... Dear Sarah, I get a lot of different answers when I google it! Can you give us some guidance on tipping in Europe?

If you dine at a pub or cafe, you don’t have to tip at all. If convenient, you could round up to the nearest euro, leaving one or two as a tip.

The catch here is that if you dine at a touristy restaurant, the staff might expect a tip because all other guests leave one. Americans are famous for overtipping. Still, absolutely do not need to leave a tip if you didn’t feel the service was worth it!

Cash is often the only way to leave a tip; there’s rarely a line on the credit card bill for a tip.

luxury travel advisor Sarah, takes on all your questions about the logistics of travelling ... Dear Sarah, I get a lot of different answers when I google it! Can you give us some guidance on tipping in Europe?

Tipping In Taxi Cabs and Tipping Guides

If you’re taking a taxi anywhere, rounding up to the nearest euro is common, unless you’re heading to the airport or somewhere far, then round up to the nearest five or ten. Porters at hotels generally warrant €1 per bag; housekeeping staff, €1 per day – if you are so inclined.

Travelers with private guides and/or drivers often tip €20-€40 per half day or €30-€50 per full day. If you are part of a guided tour, like Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck, Collette Guided Tours, or another, chances are that tips are included and anything you give would be additional. The tour company ought to give guidelines regarding this!

luxury travel advisor Sarah, takes on all your questions about the logistics of travelling ... Dear Sarah, I get a lot of different answers when I google it! Can you give us some guidance on tipping in Europe?

**

Curt, I hope that answers your question about tipping in Europe! I understand that there’s a lot of information out there and it’s not all accurate. Safe travels and have a great time!

Do you have questions about travel, about getting around cities, or about packing? Email me, Sarah, with your Ask Anything and keep an eye out for it in a future post!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

    • Hey Gene! Yes, that’s a GREAT rule. While I do tend to agree with you (and in general follow that on my own travels in Europe), I think there are times when tipping is appropriate, especially for over-the-top, excellent service at a fine dining restaurant or with a private/semiprivate guide and driver. Us Americans don’t always get the best info when it comes to tipping in Europe so I think Curt’s question is one to address, since there’s a TON of info out there to sift through.

  1. One time I was in Seville with my family, we were having dinner at a nice restaurant and the waiter came to us and asked if we were from the USA. As I told him we weren’t he told us that if we were they would charge the tip in the bill. His words were more or less like this: “You go to USA you have to tip, so they come here and they have to tip.

    Reciprocity is as good as it is bad.

    • Do you think he meant they would add an EXTRA service charge into the bill, other than what is already there? I’m curious now! The included service charge is never very much — usually €1/person to cover the bread they bring out. And in my experience, no matter where I am or who I am with (i.e. local friends), it is there.

  2. In my experience, tipping hotel housekeeping staff anywhere other than the USA is unheard of and will be seen as strange.

    • That’s a great point to make. However, in luxury hotels where Americans tip regularly, it’s definitely heard of. If the housekeeping staff go above and beyond, why not leave them a little something?

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